The Sun Kings: The Unexpected Tragedy of Richard Carrington and the Tale of How Modern Astronomy Began

The Sun Kings: The Unexpected Tragedy of Richard Carrington and the Tale of How Modern Astronomy Began

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by Stuart Clark
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0691141266

ISBN-13: 9780691141268

Pub. Date: 03/23/2009

Publisher: Princeton University Press

In September of 1859, the entire Earth was engulfed in a gigantic cloud of seething gas, and a blood-red aurora erupted across the planet from the poles to the tropics. Around the world, telegraph systems crashed, machines burst into flames, and electric shocks rendered operators unconscious. Compasses and other sensitive instruments reeled as if struck by a

Overview

In September of 1859, the entire Earth was engulfed in a gigantic cloud of seething gas, and a blood-red aurora erupted across the planet from the poles to the tropics. Around the world, telegraph systems crashed, machines burst into flames, and electric shocks rendered operators unconscious. Compasses and other sensitive instruments reeled as if struck by a massive magnetic fist. For the first time, people began to suspect that the Earth was not isolated from the rest of the universe. However, nobody knew what could have released such strange forces upon the Earth—nobody, that is, except the amateur English astronomer Richard Carrington.

In this riveting account, Stuart Clark tells for the first time the full story behind Carrington's observations of a mysterious explosion on the surface of the Sun and how his brilliant insight—that the Sun's magnetism directly influences the Earth—helped to usher in the modern era of astronomy. Clark vividly brings to life the scientists who roundly rejected the significance of Carrington's discovery of solar flares, as well as those who took up his struggle to prove the notion that the Earth could be touched by influences from space. Clark also reveals new details about the sordid scandal that destroyed Carrington's reputation and led him from the highest echelons of science to the very lowest reaches of love, villainy, and revenge.

The Sun Kings transports us back to Victorian England, into the very heart of the great nineteenth-century scientific controversy about the Sun's hidden influence over our planet.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691141268
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
03/23/2009
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix
Acknowledgments xi
Prologue: The Dog Years 1
Chapter One: The First Swallow of Summer 9
Chapter Two: Herschel's Grand Absurdity 25
Chapter Three: The Magnetic Crusade 47
Chapter Four: The Solar Lockstep 58
Chapter Five: The Day and Night Observatory 71
Chapter Six: The Perfect Solar Storm 80
Chapter Seven: In the Grip of the Sun 93
Chapter Eight: The Greatest Prize of All 98
Chapter Nine: Death at the Devil's Jumps 117
Chapter Ten: The Sun's Librarian 129
Chapter Eleven: New Flare, New Storm, New Understanding 148
Chapter Twelve: The Waiting Game 168
Chapter Thirteen: The Cloud Chamber 179
Epilogue: Magnetar Spring 188
Bibliography 191
Index 207

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The Sun Kings: The Unexpected Tragedy of Richard Carrington and the Tale of How Modern Astronomy Began 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very readable. An enjoyable, authoritative introduction to an important aspect of astrophysics. No math. This would be a good gift for an amateur radio operator. Hams can be tough to buy for; their wants can be either costly or incomprehensible. But hams everywhere are likely to be interested in solar physics, because it is the effect of the Sun's 11-year cycle on the upper atmosphere (a.k.a ionosphere) that enables intercontinental radio communication.